Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Michal Dobron believes fans can expect a team “with strength in every position” ahead of the new Elite League ice hockey season next month.
Dobron and team co-owner Scott Neil are putting together the final pieces of a jigsaw which will complete a picture of a busy summer of recruitment for the Murrayield club. With two final import positions to fill, the Czech expects a full team to be in place when Edinburgh open their Challenge Cup account ahead of their first competitive game of the season at home to Dundee Stars on the September 11.
Dobron said: “Scott and I are working hard every day to get the best team possible. We’ve found some great players and we’re putting together an exciting squad. I think this year we have a team that has strength in every position and I want us to play an attractive style of hockey. It’s important to play in a way that the players enjoy, and of course a style that the fans will want to watch.”
It is understood a contract has been agreed with a tough North American winger who would complete the club’s forward lines. However, red-tape is holding back the announcement. Asked what he expects of his final two additions, Dobron continued: “We want a tough guy and the last position we are keeping in reserve. We have the core of the team now – however, we needed some toughness, but we can afford to sit back on our final signing. It’s important we bring in the right player.”
Elite League rules allow a team to ice up to 14 imports in any one match, with a minimum of three holding EU passports. Currently former Czech international Dobron and countryman Karel Hromas are the only players who meet that criteria, so Edinburgh’s final signing will undoubtedly be a defenceman who holds an EU passport.
Caps holding out for a quality European blue-liner is nothing new and mirrors Dobron’s arrival for his first stint at the club, when he signed just days before the start of the season in 2012 after winning the league title with Slovakian cracks HC Slovan Bratislava the previous year.
“Yes you could say it’s a similar situation,” agreed Dobron. “For me it’s important we have a full team in place for the start of the season, but with over a month to go, we can afford to be patient.”
It is perhaps surprising that Dobron, the only European coach in the Elite League, has gone for a team dominated by North Americans, with eight of the clubs 12 imports being Canadian. However, Caps have raised eyebrows up and down the league, bringing in vastly experienced Russian forwards Pavel Vorobyov and Yevgeni Fyodorov who combine for just shy of 500 games played in the Russian-dominated Continental Hockey league (KHL) and in Vorobyov, a former first round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, 57 games in the NHL.
Edinburgh are the first team to have signed players who have spent the majority of their careers in the Russian leagues and come to Murrayfield as something of an unknown quantity.
This isn’t an issue for Dobron, who added: “I’m not concerned about how many Czech players we have on the team, or where they come from. If I wanted another Czech player I’m sure I’d be able to get one. Scott and I are working to a very detailed plan and the players we have are the players we wanted. I’m very excited by all the players because they are the ones we needed.
“I didn’t know we are the first team in the league to sign players from Russian teams, but we have signed them just like any other player after receiving detailed information about them from their previous clubs and coaches. They were not difficult to research.”
Dobron – who arrives in Edinburgh from his home in Prague later this month – is combining building this year’s Caps squad with working as a coach for junior hockey players, but even when drilling groups of 25 ten-to-15 year old kids, he is never too far away from the task at hand come the new season.
“I have groups of 25 kids under me and I make up both off and on ice drills for them,” he added. “We have people come from all over the world to attend the camps and last week I was working with two kids from Fife. They recognised me, and we had a laugh about the season ahead. We haven’t had anyone come over from Edinburgh yet. I have my final camp this week, so we’ll see who turns up this time.
“I cant wait to get over to Edinburgh, see everybody face-to-face and get the season started.”